How to Create an Entertainment Marketing Strategy

What is entertainment marketing? It is the use of strategies and tactics to create interest in an entertainment-oriented event, product or service, according to the Wharton School of Business. We believe there’s much more to it, however. Below are ideas that will help you employ entertainment marketing effectively to create powerful campaigns.

The use of entertainment within communications and advertising is not new, but it has evolved. Gone are the days of calling celebrity agents and managers to attach a popular name and face to an idea. Pop culture is driving the entertainment industry and consumers are driving pop culture through social media.

Entertainment and entertainers used to be distant curiosities to most of us. Today entertainment touches nearly everything we do, from shopping to watching TV to going to a concert or sporting event to travel and work. Consumers are more in tune with celebrities than ever. Owing to that, research tells us the marketing strategies and ideas that incorporate entertainment can win with consumers.

As marketers we are lucky to be able to listen to what consumers want. We know they follow and engage directly with celebrities and brands, sharing content and leveraging trends to create conversations among niche groups with specific interests.

There are many misconceptions about why and how to deploy entertainment to reach consumers. Let’s pull back the curtain and do some myth busting.

Myth – If I want to infuse entertainment into my communications campaign, I should hire a celebrity. This means I need to find someone who can connect me with an affordable celebrity.

Truth – While celebrities still make a lot of sense as brand partners because of their reach and influence, there are other facets of the entertainment industry. Sometimes where you think you need a celebrity, you may be better served by a deeper partnership with a content creator, influencer, or even a film studio. They may provide a more meaningful outlet to tell your brand’s story.

You won’t know if a celebrity is right for your campaign unless you brief your entertainment partner on the needs of your brand. For example, you may think you want Beyoncé or Frank Ocean, but there could be a different approach through a larger music strategy that goes beyond the talent and extends to the Grammys, concerts series, or even music festivals. You may also want to consider leveraging your celebrity partner as a media property and capitalizing on his/her creative capital by composing campaign elements.

Myth – "I don’t have to come up with entertainment strategies as part of my PR/Communications Plan. That can be outsourced."

Truth – As we know, PR and communications teams can be a brand’s best storytellers; entertainment and pop culture may be big parts of your plans. Entertainment ultimately can be at the core of a great idea by becoming the vehicle that delivers messages directly to targeted consumers. A smart entertainment strategy can elevate your ideas and take them to the next level where the ideas are bigger, stronger and more measurable. In fact, as marketing ventures into new areas, PR teams can benefit from the shift of dollars to incorporate entertainment strategies into their communications campaigns.

Myth – "If I want to incorporate an entertainment strategy as part of a campaign, I should focus only on Hollywood."

Truth – There was a time when the above was true. Yet social media and technology have changed the landscape of entertainment. Today the definition of an entertainer is wider and there are more than TV and film as channels to share a brand’s story. As you know, brands can produce content. Influencers play a big part in reaching consumers in an organic way and partnering with an influencer could influence sales and brand awareness online and offline. A fully integrated idea stays on the mind of a consumer much longer than a stand-alone execution.

Myth – "Entertainment is only barely discovering technology."

Truth – Technology changes the entertainment industry on a daily basis. Brands and publishers have departments dedicated solely to analyzing audiences and performance across digital and social media. It’s those data-driven results along with big ideas from brainstorming sessions that are helping to make creative decisions.

Think about media outlets that were initially content distributors, such as Netflix and Amazon. They now are powerful players in content production, due largely to the fact that they’re capturing deep consumer-specific insights that drive creative executions. Hit making is no longer a coincidence. It’s more of a science.

Myth – "I should engage an entertainment partner when I have my idea fully baked and approved."

Truth – Similar to other marketing disciplines, entertainment marketing works best if it is included in plans early. When your entertainment partner understands your objectives, it can advise you on the right kind of entertainment idea. Often, good ideas are matched with the wrong entertainment strategy. A good entertainment partner, when brought into the planning process early, can identify how a thoughtful entertainment strategy can support your brand’s objectives and provide a measurable ROI.

Matthew Lalin and Jared Weiss are founders of Starpower